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Hiking Ella Rock, Sri Lanka

Live railway lines, rivers, farms, views and a steep incline. The two-hour hike to Ella Rock has it all and is an extremely rewarding hike when in Sri Lanka.

​Sri Lanka is blessed with some fantastic medium difficulty hikes and there is no more unique hike than the one to Ella Rock!…. To get to Ella you would have most likely taken the scenic train route leaning out of the carriages to get that perfect picture for the gram, believe me when I say that I was really looking forward to this journey from Hapitale however the experience was a little lost on me due to the number of selfie sticks and tourist poses throughout the journey. It was not a journey that I could sit back and enjoy the fantastic views. That being said Ella was a perfect stop for a couple of nights and no more so than experiencing the Ella Rock Hike

First things first ignore Google Maps! If you type Ella Rock directions into Google map it will take you downhill on the main road away from the start of the hike, many people have fallen victim to this and I am sure many more will in the future! Your starting point for the Ella Rock hike is actually at Ella Rock train station!

Yes that’s right for the first 45 minutes of this hike you will be hiking down a Sri Lankan railway line which was a unique experience. The good news is that you will also be able to hear a train a long time before and the trains are not too frequent with lots of points along the track that you can stand to one side when a train does appear. You will also not be alone walking down the tracks with many locals passing you as they walk the train line to get about their normal lives and there are even guest houses on the route that you can only get to from the tracks! ​

Just after passing Kital Ella Railway station you will see a large rock on the left-hand side of the tracks with a path that leads to a stream which is a perfect place to have a little break and cool down before the incline. Cross the bridge and follow the path along to the left. Its also well worth noting that there is little to no signs up to Ella Rock so also ask people along the route if you are still on the right track as there are lots of side paths along route.

What greets you over the 30 minutes is a gradual incline before reaching a lovely little viewpoint overlooking the Sri Lankan hillside. Make sure you have another break here as the next 30 minutes are a leg burner.

The incline of Sri Lankan inclines…. Ella Rock really makes you work hard to get to the top with a really challenging quad burning route to the top. Expect dusty grounds, tree roots and rocks all along the route which can be assistance as much as a burden to reach the top.

Greeting you at the top is a little unused cabin and an elderly lady selling fresh fruit (credit to her for making the challenging hike herself with a heavy load) and a viewpoint marked by a Sri Lankan flag. However on reaching the top make sure you turn right and walk for an extra 5 minutes to the Ella Rock viewpoint which was completely empty on my hike. The viewpoint has a lot of better views, a religious shrine and is a great place to really collect your thoughts and recover from the gruelling hike.

Top Tips

  • Unless you already know the route do not attempt to do this hike for sunrise as you would more than likely get lost
  • Do make sure you start this hike at first light. Sri Lanka is hot and hiking this route in the middle of a hot day would not be enjoyable
  • Ask locals and people coming in the opposite direction constantly for directions. In the whole two hours, I think I saw one sign for Ella Rock and would have taken the wrong route numerous time if I did not ask
  • There are local sellers on route selling water and fruit however make sure you have plenty of supplies for this 4 hour round trip
  • On reaching the top make sure you hike that extra 5 minutes to the quiet viewpoint to really make the most of the Ella Rock experience




A snapshot into my favourite hikes from around the world

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A snapshot into my favourite hikes from around the world

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